Mobile property protection

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Ottawa-based firm sees new markets with automated inspection tool

A small square QR code is stuck to the inside of a red fire hose cabinet just off the lobby inside one of the Sakto office towers on Preston Street.

When scanned with a smartphone, an automated auditing checklist pops up and asks whether there’s a problem. Users can set an inspection schedule and receive alerts to examine fire hoses, extinguishers and other equipment.

Equipment maintenance is a key part of property management, but following a consistent schedule is a tricky task that’s easily overlooked, says Sakto vice-president Barry Wilkinson.

That challenge is seen as an opportunity by Ottawa-based Security.ca. The 29-year-old security services firm launched its new risk mitigation app earlier this year and signed up some of the city’s largest landlords, who see savings in automating maintenance schedules for fire equipment, fans and other machinery.

“(Without the app), it could be a couple of months before you get to it,” Mr. Wilkinson says. “It could cost me the loss of a fan going down or a burnt motor – something we could have detected and rectified.”

FUTURE PROOFING

So far, 50 clients have purchased the technology, including Morguard Investments Ltd., RioCan, Colliers International and the real estate arm of Manulife Financial.

Currently, the app is available only for BlackBerry phones, as many of Security.ca’s clients prefer its security features. Android and iOS versions will be available within a month, says Security.ca president Mark Macy.

There are similar existing security measures – usually involving the purchase of a scanner that plugs into a computer to upload data – but the app, which is called QRA (standing for Quality Responsive Assurance), uses equipment many people already have: smartphones.

Patents filed in North America and internationally will protect Security.ca’s current technology as well as future applications using near-field communication –  a move Mr. Macy refers to as “future-proofing” the technology.

Each user chooses which pieces of equipment to tag with a QR code. Mr. Macy says that once a client placed a code on each of its thermostats to regularly check temperatures as part of its energy conservation program.

He adds he hopes to market the app to hotels, retailers and hospitals. Occupational health and safety committees can use it to inspect eyewash stations, defibrillators and first aid kits. Security guards can use it to map out their tours and check in at various locations.

The app is not a sweeping security solution – it doesn’t replace security guards, cameras or alarms. But it helps users obtain lower insurance premiums by showing detailed auditing records, and it keeps buildings safer.

“I trust all my employees, but there’s so many things we have to do,” Mr. Macy says. “This is a way to ensure things aren’t falling through the cracks.”

SECURE PROFILE

With 20 employees, Security.ca uses strategic alliance partners to help sell and install the QRA risk assessment tool outside of Ottawa. Edmonton, Nova Scotia and Toronto are already part of the company’s network.

Security.ca, which was founded in 1983, plans to expand into the United States next spring. It offers other services including alarm installation and monitoring, security consulting and guard management services.